We may be finally getting something along the lines of the Skiff Reader and HP’s flexible displays from a couple years ago. LG announced they have begun mass-producing the world’s first flexible, plastic e-ink display. Other flexible displays have not been e-ink, and prior e-ink displays have been the inflexible, easy-to-crack glass-laminate type in the Kindle and the Nook.
The new plastic display has a resolution of 1024×768 and is six inches across the diagonal, which is comparable to the Kindle and Nook. Because it’s made of plastic and not glass, though, the LG display is half the weight (14g) and 30% thinner (0.7mm) than a comparable, glass e-ink panel. Existing e-book readers need to be thick (and heavy) to protect the glass display, but LG is promising that its display is a lot more rugged. The press release says that the plastic display survives repeated 1.5-meter drop tests and break/scratch tests with a small hammer, and that it’s flexible up to 40 degrees from the mid point. [ExtremeTech via Geekosystem, emphasis ours]
If they are using a conventional TFT process to manufacture these (which it sounds like they are), this will be a technique several companies can replicate using existing manufacturing processes, meaning the prices will drop quickly. This type of display also uses less power, so we can look forward to cheaper, lighter e-readers with a better battery life and even fewer books on our shelves. In other news, if all goes well I’ll soon be starting my new job as the guy who gets to hit display screens with a small hammer to test them. And to think my parents always told me I would need to learn other skills. Time to get the hammer out of storage. Welcome back, M.C., my old friend.